LGBTI+ community defies Turkish gov’t ban, holds pride march at new location

Istanbul’s LGBTI+ community held the city’s annual pride march in the Kadıköy district after the government blockaded Beyoğlu and closed public transportation. Dozens marched in the famous Bağdat Avenue until police forces were dispatched to the area.

Duvar English

LGBTI+ activists on June 30 organized the city’s 22nd annual pride march despite the government’s ban and heavy police blockade around the megacity. 

Earlier, Istanbul Governor’s Office issued a press statement and deemed organizers “illegal groups.” It closed down the Beyoğlu district where the march was traditionally held and closed down all the roads and public transportation routes leading there.

Like in previous years, the organization committee announced that they would not accept the ban and gather despite the heavy police presence around the city.

To defy the ban, LGBTI+ activists gather in the Kadıköy district situated on the Anatolian side of the city while police forces expect them in the Beyoğlu district, located on the European side.

Dozens marched in the famous Bağdat Avenue shouting, “You will never walk alone" and "Trans murders are political.” 

Despite managing to start the march at a different location, the committee ended the march after the press statement as the number of police officers in the area increased.

The organization committee reads the press statement. Taken from the @istanbulpride on X.

“We never tired of deceiving the police, of making them deal with us. We called for our existences in different parts of the city every day. You even tried to ban actions where we said we would toss our hair and paint our nails,” the statement read. 

The committee stated they acknowledge how LGBTI+s in the country have been affected by the economic crisis and poverty, and how even the most basic rights to housing and healthcare were violated. 

“Never forget that you are not alone; we are millions. That crowd, those people who now seem like a distant past, we are still here. We never left,” they added.

Participants march in the Bağdat Avenue.

In 2013 and 2014, the Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride March saw tens of thousands of participants in the famous İstiklal Avenue, becoming one of the biggest marches in the Balkans and the Middle East until the government began to ban marches in 2015.

“The government, which tries to shake off all this poverty by targeting us LGBTI+, Kurds, and refugees, is condemning all the people of Turkey to poverty while polarizing society with war policies, and politicians are adding to their wealth. They think we are slaves to a miserable future. We will undoubtedly change this system,” the statement underscored. 

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) adopted a highly conservative and family-oriented stance in recent years which has been based upon growing anti-LGBTI+ policies. 

“Your thousands of police, helicopters, bans cannot stop us. All the streets of the city are ours. Long live our lubunya solidarity,” the committee ended the press statement. 

Lubunya is a slang word used by the local LGBTI+ community to refer to each other, similar to the word queer. 

The organization committee latter shared a video of police forces searching the back street to find participants.

The video below showing the march was obtained through the courtesy of a participant.